Those people

Does it bother you when fans of a particular team show up at an opponent’s ballpark and behave rudely? Do you  wonder about their upbringing? Do you have a hard time understanding why any person can support the political candidate you can’t stand? What’s wrong with those people?

I’ll admit it. I, too, have such feelings sometimes. When I do, I try to remember the baby trick, a game I invented for myself when I see the image of someone who has been arrested or convicted for a serious crime. I try to imagine this person as an infant, lovingly held in his or her mother’s arms, or as an adorable toddler, just learning to walk. Starting life on the right foot, so to speak. What changed this person? Why did it happen?

Sometimes it’s hard to play this imagination game. Imagining someone as a sweet baby about to cut off another person’s head  pushes the limit for me. But it does work in many other cases, and it helps me get a grip on an important truth: In many ways, we humans are alike, and we share an undeniable kinship.

Singing in a multiracial choir and traveling on overseas tours  with its members taught me much about myself and my unconscious racism. Something in me made me a little wary of Russians until as a professor I spent two weeks in eastern Russia studying and teaching with them, dining in their homes. Staying as a guest in the homes of German families on  choir tours has offered me greater insight into their lives and their residual feelings about the Holocaust. The competent, compassionate care of physicians born in India or Pakistan is clarifying my impressions of people from that part of the world. The kindness and warm hospitality of the gentle Muslims who have created a prayer center near my home shows me that they are just like me.

All good, sure, what what about those people who support that political candidate? In my heart, I know that these people love their children, worship faithfully and sincerely, care about many of the same things I care about. They aren’t monsters. They just hold different viewpoints than I do. Someone loves them.

I need to do that, too. We all do.

Today’s word: alot. Not a word. Would you write alittle? Didn’t think so. A lot is two words. Never run together. A. Lot. Two separate words.

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